Today Lucille Ball would’ve been 100 years old! While most people remember her fondly from her zany exploits in I Love Lucy, she also starred in numerous plays, movies, and TV shows. In tribute to the famed actress I dug up this article which was printed on the front page of The Daily Princetonian on January 14, 1937. Among other Hollywood stars of the time, Ball was one of the several that starred in Broadway’s “Hey Diddle Diddle!” In preparation for the New York City run of the show, the show premiered for one night only on Princeton’s McCarter Theater stage. That would be a pretty damn cool thing today if a Broadway play premiered in a New Jersey playhouse. Note that the Princetonian was only 5 cents back in 1937, while The Sexy Armpit is completely FREE, unless you subscribe on Kindle like my friend Sara, and even then it’s a bargain at $0.99 cents! Also, you may want to head over to Google to check out it’s tribute to Lucille Ball when you’re finished here!
The Sexy Armpit does get ribbed for going to Broadway shows occasionally. Reactions I’ve gotten after telling people I bought tickets to see Baby It’s You on Broadway ranged from “Oh, you’re going to love it!” to “What? YOU bought tickets to see that??” Baby It’s You is not as boisterous as Rock of Ages, or as sensational as Phantom of the Opera, but after seeing on Sunday, June 12th, I found it to be a lively journey through the course of The Shirelles stardom led by record executive Florence Greenberg.
Even though Greenberg hailed from Passaic New Jersey, she was nothing like the women you see on The Housewives of New Jersey. She was a typical doting housewife who served her husband like a robot. Eventually Greenberg sought out something more from her life and decided she wanted to work in the music business. In the process of starting her own record label she left her husband and disregarded her children while dealing with her new found passion. Tony Award Winner Beth Leavel’s performance as Greenberg is first rate as we watch her ascend from the doldrums of her wifely duties in the late ’50s to prominence as a record exec.
Originally, the success of Greenberg’s second label, Scepter Records, was largely based on the New Jersey girl group The Shirelles. They were the first girl group to have a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and they were even covered by The Beatles…twice! Not bad for four graduates of Passaic High School. Baby It’s You is unique because it’s telling a story that isn’t widely known, especially to a younger audience. Essentially it’s the more obscure, female version of Jersey Boys. The show unearths the tale of a frustrated Jewish housewife from New Jersey who with a little creativity and chutzpah radically changed her life and made her dreams as well as The Shirelles dreams come true.
Personally, I knew almost all of the songs in the performed in the play, but I had no idea who Florence Greenberg was or that The Shirelles were such an influential group. The pace of the plot is boosted by the sound of several familiar songs that you may not even realize were originally performed by The Shirelles. The whole production is a deserving tribute to a group that predated The Supremes, and whose influences are even seen in more recent acts like Destiny’s Child. No matter your age, chances are, you’ll know at least half of the songs in the play and they’ll all wind up sticking in your head. Here’s just a few that are featured by The Shirelles: “Met Him on a Sunday,” “Dedicated to the One I Love,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Soldier Boy,” and of course “Baby It’s You.”
Unfortunately the amount of songs crammed into the play is one of my only real gripes with it. The previous list of songs is only about one quarter of the songs featured. Not only will you hear The Shirelles, but also songs by Leslie Gore (played by former Rock of Ages star Kelli Barrett), Dionne Warwick, The Kingsmen, The Monotones, and Gene Chandler among many others. Over stuffing the production with song and dance numbers actually made it go on a little too long.
If you’re one of those people who are worried about what people will say if you decide to go to a show on Broadway, cut the crap and GO! Whatever music you’re into, it doesn’t matter. The Shirelles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, so if you consider yourself a serious fan of American music, that’s reason enough to see it. Baby It’s You will take you for a fun and nostalgic spin through the rock and roll landscape of the late ’50s and early ’60s.
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Even though you may have seen it already, I couldn’t resist posting this video mash up of Jersey Shore and Broadway’s The Importance of Being Earnest courtesy of The Roundabout Theatre Company. This is the first part of a multi part series created for Playbill by The Importance of Being Earnest stars Santino Fontana and David Furr.
Almost 8 months ago I was super excited when I first read about Spider Man slinging his web over to star in his own show on Broadway. There are times when the word impulsive just can’t begin to describe how over excited I get upon hearing news like this. Momentarily I become a little kid again without even thinking of previous disasters like the 1966 musical, It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman. I wasn’t even on Krypton let alone Earth when some genius let that outrage make it to Broadway. How could Spider Man be as bad as that? We’ve come so far since then, haven’t we? With 3 blockbuster films, an animated series, comics, and toy web slingers, could there possibly be another way of running this Marvel property into the ground? Why yes, as a matter of fact, Spidey on Broadway! Looking back, I have no idea how I didn’t see this disaster of epic proportions looming on the New York City skyline.
Why the f-ck did I even want to get tickets to this piece of trash anyway? First of all, no offense to the Marvel maniacs out there, but I’m a DC loyalist and have been since 1982. I still enjoy many Marvel characters and their films, but I have always enjoyed the DCU more. I would never EVER want to see any of the DC characters in a musical on Broadway, so hopefully if some marketing guru from DC Entertainment tosses that idea around…GET IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD IMMEDIATELY and then someone give that m-therfucker a swirlie.
So, yeah, I’m coming clean. I did something stupid. I bought tickets the moment they went on sale. Originally my excitement was high for no good reason other than sheer boredom and a lust for fanboy stimulation. There also seemed to be a bit of mystery involved since no details were available yet. Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark (dumb title) was set to premiere on January 16th, 2010. With no info available, I incessantly called Ticketmaster since the transaction wasn’t even appearing in my account history. There was no record of me even purchasing tickets to this crapshow. After several calls, I gave up. (I loathe Ticketmaster by the way.) A few months later, the Internet was buzzing with bad press about the budgetary issues, production problems, and set design perils that the Spider Man musical had run into. This almost sounded as bad as the time those mynocks latched onto the Falcon and started chowing down on those power cables.
The premiere date was pushed to the end of February. I hoped that the new date might give the producers enough time to get their shit together, but truthfully, I started to get fed up when I received an e-mail from terrible Ticketmaster. They wanted me to call them to EXCHANGE the tickets for the new date?!?!?! WTF? Shouldn’t they have just sent me tickets for the new date? I purchased the tickets and now I would risk losing the seats that I bought? That is pure bullshit, but like a shmuck, I called and exchanged the tickets like they asked. The employee who answered had no idea about anything I was referring to. She even snickered when I told her for the second time that I was calling about the Spider Man Musical. Clearly none of the Ticketmaster employees are made aware of postponements or cancellations. When she asked for an order number, I couldn’t even give her one because the transaction didn’t even exist and I was never given an order number, nor did it show up in my account. I was super pissed now. Finally, she figured it out, but the same seats I purchased were no longer available! They gave me seats at the end of the same row, which I settled for.
Today, more articles were published all over the Internet about Spider Man being postponed until Fall of 2010. Many of the news pieces reported that Ticketmaster would be offering refunds at this point. Earlier today I received an automated message on my phone from Ticketmaster stating that I was able to call them for a refund if I desired. If not, I would have to wait for a new sale date to exchange the tickets yet again. As soon as I got home, I called Ticketmaster and asked for a refund. Wouldn’t you know that the jackass who answered the phone had absolutely no clue about anything I was referring to. I told him that I received an automated call and that I was requesting a refund since the show would be postponed for a third time. I’d say it took a good 3 minutes of holding and listening to the same stupid music until he came back and asked more questions. By the end of the near 14 minute conversation full of needless back and forth, I got my refund. Now all I have to do is make sure it actually goes into my account or I’m suing Tickemaster for $200 bucks!
If you’ve been following the continuing debacle of the snowballing Spider Man Musical budget, you probably have a pretty good idea how I arrived at my decision. As of today, the budget is apparently in the realm of $50 million dollars and growing. Maybe I was sucked in by the thought of Edge working on the musical score for the show, or the idea that Mary Jane would be played by Evan Rachel Wood. Why don’t they just take those ideas, and before they shove them up their asses, put them to good use in either another feature film or an animated DVD movie? Considering that ticket sales for plays and musicals have been slumping for the past few years, the question here is…how many of you would be eager to go and shell out $100 bucks per ticket to see a Spider Man musical?
Among the several Tony nominations for Broadway’s Rock of Ages, Wyckoff, NJ (home of the Jonas Brothers) native and Ramapo High School alum Constantine Maroulis is nominated for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical! Good Luck to ROA! Tune in tonight (8 PM Eastern on CBS hosted by Neil Patrick Harris) to see if it wins and check out a performance by its cast members and Poison!
Right this second in New Jersey, 2 miles away from Tromaville in fact, I sit atop an old hazardous chemicals canister that doubles as my computer desk in the toxic dumping grounds (it was empty, but thanks for your concern). I’ve been experimenting in my lab. No, I’m not trying to discover a cure for Toxie’s grossness, but I am trying to find out if the soundtrack to The Toxic Avenger Musical holds up after multiple listens. In order to figure this out, I’ve been alternating between blasting it’s songs for a few minutes then immersing the disc in mass quantities of green chemicals. After all, the theme of the musical is “be green,” right? Ohhhh, they meant, like, the environment and stuff? Well, if I discover the CD is that good, I’ll never have to throw it away, hence making LESS GARBAGE in New Jersey! It’s a win-win!
Not to be a blowhard, but I was lucky enough to review The Toxic Avenger Musical when it premiered in New Brunswick, NJ (click here for the review). After the show, the tunes wouldn’t leave my head for the rest of the night. Seriously, from a guy’s point of view, plays and musicals don’t seem to appeal to us as much as they do to girls. Personally, I enjoy going to a play once in a while like Rock of Ages, and even though not the studliest of musicals, Chicago. It really isn’t too bad, but how many guys do you know that would drive around town in their vehicle with their windows down blasting “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” from A Chorus Line? For those who don’t want to risk it, they can feel A-OK about popping in the Original Cast Recording of The Toxic Avenger Musical.
Be advised that this is not some half assed rip off of the Troma classic, The Toxic Avenger. Unlike The Wedding Singer, and Legally Blonde, this is a sharply written, hallucinogenic, metaphorical, musical comedy. Now let’s see what David Bryan and Joe DiPietro can create with that mound of descriptions! It’s likely whatever they come up with wouldn’t be able to go face to sludge with the outlandish fun they’ve created for the soundtrack to the Toxic Avenger Musical.
“It’s never the same pus from one moment to the next.”
Sounds like it might be some dialogue from a song on The Toxie Musical Soundtrack, right? WRONG! It’s actually some dialogue from Waiting for Godot, the play you WON’T have to go see if you can convince your girlfriend to STAY HOME and listen to the Toxic Avenger soundtrack that you ordered. Trust me, this will work if you promise to act out Toxie’s parts! (Just get a mop and glue some green jello to your face, you’ll be fine.) Now this is more like it:
“There’s a place between heaven and hell, don’t need a map just follow the smell…a place filled with filthy air…a place filled with dark despair… A place called New Jersey! New Jersey….The Garden State.”
“There’s an exit called the 13B, right off the Turnpike where it smells just like pee…” To the rare breed of people who actually defend NJ from it’s constant pop culture persecution, this stuff is bittersweet, immortal poetry. Finally, these heartwarming sentiments have permanently etched their way into Broadway! So, Suck it New York City! haha. The words of the songs may seem elementary at first listen, but at least you won’t have to use an iPhone app to decipher the meanings of the songs. The easily relatable ideas of physical freakishness and pollution are two themes the soundtrack imaginatively evokes.